Blurb about why Forefront rocks, caption for photo
Forefront Team Members Niyisha Foley and Lily Blouin at our 45th Annual Luncheon.
Forefront Team Members Niyisha Foley and Lily Blouin at our 45th Annual Luncheon.

About Us

Forefront is Illinois’ statewide association representing both grantmakers and nonprofits, as well as their advisors and allies. Our mission is to build a vibrant social impact sector for all the people of Illinois. We provide education, advocacy, thought leadership, and facilitate collective action around issues that are important to our Members and to the sector.

Currently, Forefront has over 1,100 Members. Our Nonprofit Members work in over 26 different issue areas across the state. Our Grantmaker Members include private foundations (such as family and independent foundations), public charities, corporations, donor-advised funds, charitable trusts, and individual philanthropists. We also actively engage social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and B-Corps to spur innovation in the sector.

Forefront achieves its vision for Illinois by focusing on four key strategies:

Increase Investment to the Sector

Nonprofit organizations and public foundations need adequate funds to fulfill their missions and serve communities. Private foundations and the public sector need additional and diverse funding partners to further leverage their limited resources while scaling impact. Forefront advocates for additional private and public investments into the social impact sector and create initiatives that directly increase charitable giving and impact investing. We continue to:

  • Grow #ILGive participation across the state by developing regional champions.
  • Engage statewide partners to research the transfer of wealth on philanthropic giving.
  • Sustain an advocacy network by connecting with legislators and their staff to advance knowledge of the sector and promote policies with increased charitable giving.

Develop Top Talent

The social impact sector is tasked with solving some of the most difficult challenges facing society. The need for knowledgeable, passionate, and agile professionals is greater than ever. To meet this unprecedented demand for leading talent, Forefront offers best-in-class professional development training. Our unique curriculum continues to be affordable, accessible, inclusive, and comprehensive. Also, our Library is a leading center for research and best practices with access to specialized prospect research databases. We continue to:

  • Develop and deliver comprehensive professional development training for grantmaking, nonprofit, civic leaders, and professionals.
  • Strengthen Forefront Member and Peer Networks to facilitate deeper and more impactful peer learning.
  • Publish and distribute an updated “Best Practices for Operating Nonprofits and Foundations” in coordination with the Illinois Attorney General.

Improve Systems and Policies

Strong and effective social impact organizations thrive in an environment where they are valued and supported. Forefront removes barriers, increases efficiencies, and fosters innovation to create favorable practices, processes, and policies that are critical to their work. We actively promote civic engagement on behalf of our sector and continue to diversify our stakeholders. We also continue to:

  • Offer Civic Engagement grants, education, and training statewide for the nonprofit sector in advance of the 2020 Primary Election.
  • Provide the leadership and backbone support to the Census 2020 Funders Collaborative, the statewide Count Me in 2020 Advocacy Coalition and state/local elected officials.
  • Partner with state and national research organizations to publish research relevant to our Members.

Promote Collective Action and Strategic Partnerships

Too many organizations are working in isolation without access to resources that promote collaboration, cultivate partnerships, and scale impact. Forefront is the go-to hub to help fulfill our stakeholders’ needs for strategic and collaborative partnerships plus collective impact. We continue to:

  • Expand the Mission Sustainability Initiative as a confidential hub for nonprofits to access educational resources about strategic partnership and collaborations.
  • Develop a strategic partnership with FBRK and the Impact House stakeholders to facilitate greater collaboration in Illinois philanthropy.
  • Work with the Advancing Racial Equity Committee to educate board, staff, and key stakeholders, and develop a thoughtful, intentional, action-oriented movement within and outside Forefront.

Together, our efforts help educate children, shelter the homeless, enrich the arts, and address a host of other critical issues to create healthier and more vibrant communities throughout Illinois. Click here to learn how Membership could benefit your organization.

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